During the downswing of the pandemic, UCLA student Manaav Mehta launched a business. It wasn't complicated or grandiose, but it fit the moment: a platform called Bolo that allowed students to carry on seamless conversations about coursework, extracurricular activities, and college life without the headache of setting up different processes and tools for different use cases. Even better, it connected to the school's database and was entirely secure.

The solution was simple, fit to the moment, and mapped to a specific need: clear, accessible digital communication as schools were slowly moving from virtual learning back to the classroom.

Stories like this make headlines, as this one did on CNBC, in large part because of the precociousness of the creator. But while young entrepreneurs are fit to be lauded, the success of those who make it in the news is not about their precociousness so much as their ability to recognize a problem and find a simple solution.

Contrarily, in the era of Shark Tank and similar shows, the glamour of product-based business launches seems more about dramatic innovation and originality of the product. How fresh and outside-the-box is the creation? The more boldly it checks that box, the more likely -- it seems -- investors and the public will pay attention.

But Mehta's creation takes us back to the bread and butter of successful businesses: solutions directly addressing problems or needs.

A gimmicky gadget, flashy new toys -- it's all glitz at first glance, and perhaps even compelling. But, at the end of the day, a business is asking customers to give up their hard-earned money to acquire a product. That forces the question for every buyer: "Is this something I need or want? Is it solving a problem for me?" If the answer is no, the company flounders -- and, more than probably, dies.

There's another piece to this problem-solving puzzle -- one similar to the classic pitfall of writers. We shouldn't write about what we don't know; our arguments and narratives would be holey at best and a house of cards at worst. The same is true for businesses. Building a foundation on flash and fancy instead of problem-solving substance aligned with founders' expertise leads brands quickly astray. They lose footing -- if it was ever there -- and they fall.

The lesson here is not a new one, but it bears repeating as new entrepreneurs take center stage. You can capture the attention of the public with a superficial "wow," but only momentarily. If you commit to building a product that has evergreen value, and the solution you craft is done with accessible expertise, you have a much greater chance at longevity.

Wouldn't you rather have a reputation as a problem-solving business, designed to last, than one of glitz and glamour, quick to fizzle?

(Note: The statistic included in the title was sourced from Investopedia/the Bureau of Labor Statistics.)